Supplemental draft rarely a bargain bin
Washington hopes Jarmon proves to be rare "special draft" gem
Hoping to catch lightning (or at least a lightning-quick pass-rusher) in a bottle for the second time in three months, the Washington Redskins on Thursday selected University of Kentucky defensive end Jeremy Jarmon in the NFL supplemental draft.
The Redskins, who finished with the league's fifth-worst sack total in 2008 (24 sacks), chose University of Texas defensive end/linebacker Brian Orakpo with the 13th overall pick in the April draft. To add another upfield threat, the Redskins took Jarmon in the third round of the supplemental lottery. Washington didn't have a single defender with more than four sacks in 2008.
Jarmon was the lone player selected in the supplemental draft, which included seven other prospects. By exercising a choice for him, the Redskins will forfeit their third-round pick in the 2010 draft. Washington, which rarely has a full complement of April draft choices anyway, was already without its sixth-round pick in 2010, because of last year's trade for defensive end Jason Taylor, who was released earlier this spring.
Before Thursday, the Redskins had never taken a player in the supplemental draft.
Washington officials can only hope that Jarmon is as superb a prospect as Orakpo, who caused a considerable amount of buzz during the minicamps and organized team activities in the spring. If Jarmon is even close to being that good, the Redskins will have beaten the very long odds in the supplemental draft. The lottery almost never turns out a productive player.
"I thought that it was a situation where you get a chance to get a big defensive lineman and he gets a chance to come in, learn from two veteran guys, and he's only 21 years old and he's got the size," executive vice president Vinny Cerrato told the Washington-area media after the special draft.
Normally, the only thing big about supplemental draft prospects is the sound of the enormous flop they make when they eventually are marshaled out of the league altogether. Indeed, the collective NFL résumés of the supplemental draft prospects historically have been lacking.
And that's being kind.
Of the 37 players chosen in the supplemental draft from 1977 to 2008, nine never played a single snap in an NFL regular-season game. Seventeen of them never started even one contest. Just five carved out NFL careers that included 100 or more appearances. The average career span for those previous 37 supplemental prospects is 41.8 games, or barely the equivalent of 2½ full seasons in the league. There have been no eventual Hall of Fame players chosen in the supplemental draft, although wide receiver and ESPN analyst Cris Carter has a good chance of some day being inducted to the Canton shrine. The supplemental drafts have produced only four Pro Bowl participants.
But perhaps Jarmon, who lost his final season of eligibility when he tested positive this spring for a substance banned by the NCAA, will beat that shoddy track record. Jarmon has said he tested positive for a dietary supplement.
Pasquarelli: Supplemental Draft Stars
The NFL's supplemental draft has produced some forgettable prospects during the 33 years of its existence (1977-2009). Here, though, are ESPN.com's choices for the five top players selected in the history of the supplemental draft:
-- Len Pasquarelli
There was a clear consensus among NFL teams that Jarmon was by far the top prospect from the players in the 2009 supplemental draft pool. The Philadelphia Eagles were among the several teams interested in Jarmon, and the Detroit Lions were poised to spend a fourth-rounder on him before the Redskins made their move. Four other teams, whose identities are not known, also submitted fourth-round bids.
Jarmon measured 6 feet, 3 1/8 inches and 278 pounds for his workout last week. He was timed in the 40-yard dash at between 4.75 and 4.84 seconds. Jarmon, who is expected to work at left end, also demonstrated the kind of upfield explosiveness that most teams are seeking in an outside pass-rusher.
In his three college seasons, Jarmon posted 130 tackles, 30 tackles for losses, 17½ sacks, four forced fumbles and four recoveries. An honorable mention All-SEC player last season, Jarmon recorded 13 sacks in 2007, but dropped off to just 4½ sacks in 2008. He started 31 games at Kentucky, and, on the plus side, Jarmon has already graduated with a degree in political science.
Many scouts agree that Jarmon probably would have been a second-round prospect next April had he played his final season for the Wildcats. He likely will be a situational player this season, learning from fellow rookie Orakpo and veteran ends Phillip Daniels and Andre Carter.
If Jarmon does evolve into a productive player, he will join a small subset of supplemental choices who made good.
Jared Gaither, chosen by the Baltimore Ravens in the fifth round of the 2007 supplemental draft, and the team's starter at left offensive tackle for 15 games in 2008, is among that tiny group. In fact, Gaither is the only supplemental player of real consequence chosen since 1998, when the San Diego Chargers tabbed defensive tackle Jamal Williams and the Green Bay Packers picked offensive lineman Mike Wahle, both in the second round.
If the regular draft is an inexact science, as most scouts insist, the supplemental lottery is an already-questionable experiment gone awry. It is caveat emptor taken to the highest level.
"It's iffy, to say the least," said Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has exercised four supplemental picks, the most of any franchise in the league.
Little wonder so few teams participate in the supplemental draft. Seven franchises have never made a supplemental pick. Fifteen others have made just one.
There have been eight first-round choices used, none since 1992. But even some of the top lottery picks -- like linebacker Brian Bosworth (Seattle Seahawks1987), and quarterbacks Steve Walsh (Dallas, 1989), Timm Rosenbach (Arizona Cardinals 1989) and Dave Brown (New York Giants, 1992) -- never approximated expectations.
Consider the 10 supplemental players selected in the past 10 years. Four are out of the NFL altogether, and another has zero starts the past two years. Tailback Tony Hollings of Georgia Tech, chosen by the Houston Texans in the second round in 2003, has not registered a rushing attempt since 2004. Offensive lineman Milford Brown (Houston in the sixth round, 2002) has played with four different teams in seven seasons.
That dubious history explains why, in the 33-year history of the supplemental draft, there have been nine occasions when not a single player was selected. There have been 12 years with just one pick, and only twice has there been more than two selections. The most prospects ever chosen in a supplemental draft was five in 1989.
Jarmon wants to help rewrite the history of the supplemental draft.
"Being on an NFL roster is something I've waited a long time for, and now it's a reality," Jarmon said. "I want to repay [the Redskins] for their confidence in me."
Around The League
Len Pasquarelli, a recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's McCann Award for distinguished reporting, is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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